From the Pastor: A Recent Question
A couple of weeks ago I was asked a question which I thought was interesting enough to share with you here. The conversation came about as a result of someone reading my previous bulletin articles dealing with the active homosexual and homosexual activist priests and bishops. The reader asked what he thought would be a rather rhetorical question that went something like this: “You are pretty blunt about the sin of sodomy. I bet you never get any gays going to you for confession, huh?” Now, before I go further into the story, I want you to ponder what he had assumed. Because I am clear that sodomy is a mortal sin and, further, that those priests and bishops who embrace it rather than abhor it are evil and satanic (yes, I wrote quite bluntly about that issue), his assumption was that nobody who engages in this sin would come to me for confession. But, and this is a big BUT, except for those approaching the confessional for immoral purposes (which is a much larger discussion which I will not be able to fully engage in here), every person who enters the confessional, no matter what sin they may have committed (or what good they may have neglected) is there with repentance, seeking absolution and the additional graces needed to avoid falling into sin again. This man had not made the distinction between two groups of men: 1) Those who willingly and knowingly engage in mortal sin not only without repentance but, incredibly, with defiance against God’s moral law which defines it as mortal sin in the first place; and 2) Those who engage in mortal sin but afterward repent of it and seek out God’s abundant mercy with the intention to be cleansed and healed and never to commit that sin again. Certainly, those in the first group never come to confession to me or to any other priest, for that matter, for to them confession is a farce. Those of the second group will seek out the sacramental graces they need, as quickly as they can and as often as they need. Moreover, what the questioner failed to grasp is that they will often seek out a priest who is clear about what is and what is not mortal sin rather than one who is silent or, worse yet, approving of it. Let’s look at why they will often go out of their way to seek me out or seek out another priest with a reputation of being “tough.”
Many people who struggle with sins, especially sexual sins and even more specifically with those sins which the world currently champions, have had their fill of priests, first in the pulpit and later in the confessional, who make excuses on their behalf for their repented immoral behavior. They get frustrated with Benedict Arnold priests who tell them that the Church is wrong and that they can continue with their actions without qualms to their conscience. They know they have sinned, they know they have offended God, they know that their immortal souls are cut off from sanctifying grace. They want to confess to a priest who will not coddle them but will instead hold them to accountability, encourage them in holiness, and grant absolution with the proper words and formula. As I explained this to the questioner, he admitted that he had never thought of it that way before even though he has those same criteria when looking for a confessor himself! Why think sodomy is in a unique category? I write about this because I hope that others (you) will understand what happens when a priest does not speak clearly about sin. That is what drives people away from the confessional. After all, why confess if Father doesn’t believe in sin or in the eternally damning effects of mortal sin? More than that, I hope you realize how damaging it is for the penitent to confess something like sodomy to a priest who, from his teaching and preaching makes himself out to be so “merciful” and “inclusive” that he, unlike the “rigid” and “traditional” and “judgmental” priests like me, preaches mercy without repentance, forgiveness without confession, and death without judgment. In the confessional, that type of priest will, as has been attested to in many public stories recently, try to encourage him to continue his sin, either with others or, God help me for having to even type this, with the immoral priest himself. I hope people are waking up to the fact that many, perhaps most or all, priests who blather about a false “mercy” do so only because they are constantly engaging in mortal sin themselves and are trying to rationalize the literal hell out of their actions. Active homosexual priests will find plenty of “action” by making it known that they are available for “service” and no confession is required afterward. Blech. Repentant sinners find that repulsive. They go elsewhere for true mercy. Yes, I told my surprised questioner, many come to me for confession.
That does not mean that all priests who preach the truth always live the truth. No, even the best priest can fall into sin. Too, there is always a slight possibility that a priest who teaches the fullness of the Faith lives a double life and does not believe what he preaches. But when a priest openly and proudly admits to being “progressive” (ie., does not believe Church teachings, especially in the moral realm) nobody really expects him to give good advice (or even valid absolution) in the confessional, either.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka